- Dec 20, 2012
Dirty Clash of China's Heavy Equipment Heavies -
(Beijing) – The dramatic fall of a media mercenary has exposed a quiet, dirty war for clients, government favors and respectability between two of the world's largest heavy-equipment manufacturers.
It's a years-long war that's been largely hidden from the public eye, on a battlefield littered with charges and counter-charges of espionage, slander and back-door deals in the Hunan Province city of Changsha, home base for rivals Zoomlion Heavy Industry Science & Technology Development Co. Ltd. and Sany Heavy Industry Co. Ltd.
That these two companies have been at each other's throats was never entirely clear. No one knows, for example, who posted on the Internet false financial reports about Sany that scared investors two years ago and sank the company's bid for an initial public offering. Some blamed Zoomlion, but investigators following orders for a probe from then premier Wen Jiabao found nothing wrong.
The recent downfall of journalist Chen Yongzhou, however, changed everything. Widely reported across China was news that Chen, a reporter for the Guangzhou-based newspaper New Express, had been detained by Changsha police October 18 for allegedly writing lies about Zoomlion's finances in exchange for money.
Chen then confessed on national television that he had indeed penned a series of stories whose aim was to intentionally slander Zoomlion. He also said that he had pocketed 50,000 yuan after the stories were published between September 29, 2012 and August 8, 2013 in New Express.
Chen's detention-center interview appeared on a state-run CCTV news show on October 26. Without directly mentioning Sany, he claimed an unidentified middleman had arranged the deal. A close-up shot of Chen's signed confession was aired during the interview, and clearly written on the page was Sany's name.
Authorities have refused additional information about Chen. But looking back at the recent history of Sany-Zoomlion relations over the past few years, it's apparent that the journalist had put himself on the front lines of a battle between Sany and Zoomlion. And the war seems far from over.